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Gunnison Homes in Springfield

Gunnison Magic Homes- Gunnison Homes- United States Steel Homes

I had heard about Gunnison Homes.  I had even been in one, when it was listed for sale a while back.  But I thought they were just some plain old Pre-Fabricated House from the 1950’s, and not of much interest.  But twice this Summer, they came up while I was out and about hunting up Sears and other kit houses.

The first time was in July, when my Mentor, Rebecca Hunter, was visiting my area.  We were making a quick trip out early on a Sunday morning to get photos of one of Springfield’s best kit houses, an Aladdin Villa.  Our next stop was to pick up Andrew Mutch, who was also visiting, and I drove through a connecting neighborhood to where he was staying.  Rebecca, of course, had her eyes peeled for anything that might look like a kit house, even though I knew we were in a 1950’s neighborhood.  And then she said “There’s a Gunnison House”.  It was actually the one I had been in when it was for sale a while back.  And then she taught me something.  Not like she isn’t always teaching me something, because she is, but she taught me something about Gunnison Homes.  They have a unique feature that is easy to spot from the street.  Huh.  We’ll get to that shortly.

The second time Gunnison Homes came up was a just a few weeks later when I went to an Open House for A Harris Bros 1517 in Urbana.

I took a copy of the catalog page for the Harris Bros., and gave it to the real estate agent on site at the Open House.  She was very interested.  We discussed kit houses for a minute, then she said she knew of one in Springfield on Kensington Place.  I was skeptical.  Kensington Place is in our Ridgewood in the Country Club District, and I hadn’t spotted any kit homes there on my numerous visits to the neighborhood.  But she was insistent, and said it was just a little ranch style house, and seemed very out of place on the block.  Oh yes!  I knew exactly which little house she was talking about.  Then I asked her if she thought maybe it was a Gunnison Home.  She thought a minute, and said that sounded  familiar, but wasn’t sure.  So, of course, I had to take a drive past the house, and sure enough, it’s a Gunnison Home.

How did I know so quickly?  From that little detail Rebecca Hunter pointed out when she was visiting.  Gunnison Homes have a unique design on the chimney, and once you know that, you will be able to easily spot Gunnison Homes, too.

chimney-detail

 

See those two stripes on the chimney?  That’s all there is to it.

Now I do have to tell you, you can’t really see that small detail on Google Maps or Bing Maps, so you do have to leave your house, drive around, and look for the houses.  And that’s what I did the other day.  I spent about an hour and a half driving around the North West Quadrant of Springfield, and I got photos of 18 Gunnison Homes.

But what is a Gunnison Home?  Yes, they were pre-fab, but they didn’t come into being in the 1950’s like I thought.  The first Gunnisons started being manufactured in 1936, and continued until 1974.  They were made from insulated plywood panels that were bolted together at the home site. I’m going to send you to a link that explains them in more detail.  No sense repeating what someone else has already taken the time to research and post about.  This link has good information.  The Gunnison Home  If you want to know more, you can just Google them.

From my reading up on them, it looks like they had between 11 and 14 models, depending on the year, and we have a nice selection of those models here in Springfield.  The Gunnison Home kits had to be purchased from a Gunnison Dealer, so I am assuming we had one locally.  I’ll have to do additional research to see if I can figure out who was selling them.

Before I show you photos of a few of the ones around town, please take a look at this flickr set showing the  1950 Gunnison Homes catalog.  Note that you could purchase porches, sun rooms, and garages as add ons.

OK, here’s some of the ones in Springfield.  A couple of them still retain their original exterior look, meaning you can tell they were built from panels, but for the most part, the homes have been covered over in newer vinyl siding.  Some have been altered so much, that if it wasn’t for those two stripes on the chimney, I never would have known.

520-southwood-2

520 Southwood Dr. According to Rebecca Hunter, this was one of the largest models, and was purchased with added side porches and a garage.

221-w-harding-1

221 W Harding Rd

1345-n-plum-1

1345 N Plum St.  This one still has the original exterior panel design.  There are three other Gunnison Homes on N Plum St., within a few blocks of this one.  

1824-fairway-4

1824 Fairway Dr.  This one sits sideways on the lot.  The side with the two windows and the garage door is what you see from the street.

1963-oak-knoll-2

1963 Oak Knoll Dr.  This one had an added side porch and garage, but they are attached to make the home an L shape.  There is a matching home next door at 1977 Oak Knoll Dr., but it is hard to see from the street due to a lot of mature trees.

1977-1983-harshman-1

1977 and 1983 Harshman Blvd.  The home on the left is turned sideways on the lot.  There are three other Gunnison Homes on Harshman Blvd.

2027-pembrook

2027 Pembrook Dr.  

425-427-w-harding

425 and 427 W Harding Rd. These two are business buildings, and they are longer than the largest model available from Gunnison Homes. I am thinking they were custom ordered, or both had additions made to them sometime after they were built in 1951. If you read up on these homes, you will find that there were only a few types of panels made, and they were bolted together in different ways to create the various models.

132-n-kensington

132 N Kensington Place. This is the home I showed the chimney for in the beginning of this post.

132-n-kensington-2

132 N Kensington Place, and it does indeed look out of place among the larger homes on the block that were built in the 1920’s.

 

If you know of any Gunnison Homes near you, please leave a comment.  Just look for that chimney with the two stripes!

 

 

 

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12 comments on “Gunnison Homes in Springfield

  1. Oh My Gosh, Cindy, that walking tour last night was fantastic. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the two stripe Gunnison Homes now! I love all the facts you share!!

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  2. Great blog. And to think, it’s all about the chimney! If I had a nickel for every time I’ve driven by those on Harshman, I could take us to lunch! Ha!

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  3. I own a Gunnison home in West Jefferson, OH., and it is one of many in town. I’d like to find out how they were marketed at the time as it appears a whole subdivison consists of Gunnison homes.

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    • From what I read there would have been a local sales representative. If there was a newspaper there in West Jeff in the 1950’s and 1960’s, maybe you could find an advertisement. Check with your library and let me know! I’ll try to get over that way soon and hunt them up.

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  4. Cindy, call me when you go to West Jeff!

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